The Tragedy of 9/11 Continues with Increased Risk of Deadly Lung Disease

Sep 09, 2011, 08:30 ET from Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis

NEW YORK, Sept. 9, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- At this time of remembrance of the tragedy of 9/11, the Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis is reminded of the potentially life-threatening consequences that remain for those who responded to the crisis and worked in its aftermath.  Many of them suffer from respiratory ailments, including Pulmonary Fibrosis (PF), and still many more may fall ill in the months and years to come as a result of exposures at the World Trade Center (WTC) site.  

"The Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis (CPF) is reaching out to patients diagnosed with Pulmonary Fibrosis (PF) and is an available resource for families and caregivers, as well," said Mishka Michon, CEO of the CPF.  PF is a lethal lung disease that causes the lungs to harden and suffocates its victims.  More than 40,000 people die each year from PF, the same as breast cancer.  There is no treatment and no cure.

Pulmonary issues as a result of 9/11 exposures by first responders, clean-up workers and others are commonplace and are tracked at multiple medical centers in the New York City area.  Multiple research studies have been conducted regarding respiratory symptoms and illnesses in this population and have reported significant declines in respiratory function that may be a result of their WTC exposures (The Proceedings of the American Thoracic Society 7:142-145 (2010) © 2010 The American Thoracic Society doi: 10.1513/pats.200908-092RM; "Emerging Exposures and Respiratory Health; World Trade Center Dust," William N. Rom et al).

Vito Valenti was a first responder on 9/11 and in the days and weeks following in the search for survivors performed search and rescue services and delivered much-needed supplies to the site.  Today, he suffers from end-stage PF and isn't sure he'll survive much longer without a lung transplant, which is the only way to survive the disease.  "I am getting worse and am using more and more supplemental oxygen.  I'm not giving up and I'll use the time I have left to raise awareness of PF and try and get more help for first responders like me," Valenti said.

WTC responders experienced a variety of potentially lethal exposures--pulverized building materials and other lethal chemical contaminants. As a result, ongoing research is critical to improve our understanding of lung diseases like PF. Improved knowledge about WTC-related health impacts, including longitudinal studies to identify how 9/11 environmental exposures cause respiratory illness; studies to identify biologic indicators of specific 9/11 exposures; and other research to identify risk factors for long-term illness due to WTC exposure; is desperately needed.  

"There is a need for improved public education and awareness of PF and other diseases that are being diagnosed. The CPF provides compassionate support for PF patients including these heroic first responders and WTC workers," said Michon.  

For more information on PF, please visit, call 1-888-222-8541 or email at  

SOURCE Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis